Biohaven exceeds expectations with rapid sales of migraine medications

Dive brief:

  • Biohaven Pharmaceuticals has significantly exceeded Wall Street expectations for sales of its migraine drug Nurtec ODT, report wednesday Second quarter net product sales that were almost double what analysts had expected.
  • Between April and May, Biohaven recorded approximately $ 93 million in sales of Nurtec ODT, which recently became the first drug approved for both preventive treatment debilitating headache. Analysts were forecasting around $ 50 million in sales.
  • News of Nurtec ODT’s rapid sales, which appeared to be driven by increased patient demand, pushed Biohaven shares up 14% on Wednesday, putting the market value of the biotech company north of $ 7 billion.

Dive overview:

Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Biohaven is a small drugmaker challenging some of the biggest in the industry.

Nurtec ODT, which first gained on-demand migraine treatment approval in February 2020, works similarly to AbbVie’s Ubrelvy and also competes with Eli Lilly’s Reyvow in this indication. In preventive therapy, for which the Food and Drug Administration approved Nurtec ODT in May, there is competition from antibody-based drugs sold by Lilly, Amgen and Novartis, Teva Pharmaceutical and Lundbeck.

So far, however, Biohaven appears to be holding up. Sales since launch have now eclipsed $ 200 million and, according to the company, more than 750,000 prescriptions have been written through June 30.

Lilly takes the competitive threat seriously, announcement last month plans to conduct a trial comparing its drug Emgality directly to Nurtec ODT for the preventive treatment of migraine.

Biohaven has invested in direct-to-consumer marketing, recruiting Khloe Kardashian and Whoopi Goldberg as spokespersons for Nurtec ODT and sponsor a Nascar car. Ads featuring Kardashian are particularly ubiquitous, although Biohaven has been warned by the FDA on the misleading claims made by it.

Analysts who spoke to company executives on Wednesday said strong second-quarter sales generally appeared to be driven by growing demand and more favorable prices, rather than one-off factors.

“While we are not sure how much inventory for the prevention indication could have impacted the quarter, this performance is nonetheless quite astonishing,” wrote Ken Cacciatore, analyst at Cowen, in a research note.

Biohaven pre-declared its sales figures before officially disclosing its second quarter results later this summer.


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